Prison mutiny thwarted

Foto: Filip Jandourek

It has emerged that police and prison guards last week thwarted the biggest ever prison mutiny in the country’s history. The plot was allegedly hatched by jailed members of the Berdych gang -the largest organized crime ring in the Czech Republic with links to former elite police officers and is said to have involved dozens of prisoners in jailhouses around the country.

Jiří Pospíšil
News of the biggest prison mutiny in the country’s history was not intended for public disclosure, and had received the highest degree of classification given to information with possible repercussions to national security. But when commercial TV Prima broke the story on Monday night officials made no attempt to deny it. Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil:

“Yes, I was informed about the matter about a week ago by the police. I was told there were preparations for a mutiny in a number of jailhouses and it appears that the prisoners involved in it were able to communicate and keep each other informed about the plot.”

Photo: Filip Jandourek,  Czech Radio
The planned revolt allegedly involved prisoners scattered in up to ten jailhouses. Many were found to have a collection of crude hand-made weapons in their cells but according to one source also firearms - which were to have served in the initial phase of the rebellion – to kill or pacify prison guards. Within minutes prisoners were to have taken over the respective control centres, to prevent officials from raising the alarm and calling in reinforcements. And in the final stage mutineers were to have broken into weapons storerooms and armed themselves with pistols and machineguns. The mutiny was to have taken place simultaneously in a number of jailhouses order to paralyze the system and create chaos. Police and prison guards allegedly cracked down on the mutineers at the eleventh hour raiding prison cells, confiscating dozens of weapons and reinforcing security in prisons around the country. According to TV Prima the plot was unearthed by the country’s counter-intelligence service which was evasive in its statement. Counter–intelligence spokesman Jan Šubert.

“If a clamp-down took place in the country’s prisons, then I must say that it was not planned by us, it was not masterminded by us and does not fall within our competence. However as far as organized crime is concerned then it is true that we monitor every sphere that might bring relevant information.”

Commentators and experts point to the fact that if the Berdych gang was behind the plan then its members still have active contacts not just with the outside world but among themselves in a variety of jailhouses. An ongoing investigation is to reveal if they had accomplices within the country’s prison services or ranks of the police. Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil told the press it was premature to say what repercussions the thwarted plot might have.

“It is naturally a grave matter and it is now under investigation. I really cannot say where it is going to lead. But when there are concrete results then respective decisions will be made and the public will naturally be informed All I can say now is that I get regular reports and can assure you there is no threat to public safety at the present time.”